Adrian, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, (better known as the ever-helpful Trev in the Tangents forum), has the guest spot this week. Adrian has expanded on his explanation of the actions that he mentioned in the comments section of the recent article on Selective Sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as two downloadable actions as well.
Photoshop actions to help with Post Processing after RAW conversion (free download)
The following downloadable actions with the instructions on their use can save some time and grief on getting a good result after RAW conversion. Even using your RAW converter may not get a fully desirable end result and these very easy to use actions will help in that regard. They are not complicated and you don’t need any plug-ins to achieve a simple lift to your final image.
The actions, while still utilising the features in photoshop, do it in a different way to what you may have learnt or been shown, by using layers and masks you keep the integrity of your image at the same time giving it that lift.
Things like a simple contrast can be achieved in less than 1 second running the action, but, without the undesired color shift you would get with the ‘generic S Curve’.
Once you have run it through the RAW converter, you can still open the RAW file itself [from ACR] and have an image adjusted quicker and easier than during the RAW stage, or once exported, having a batch opening and then checking selected images make further adjustments much easier.
Sharpening is always a contentious point, many varying views, but the one thing that remains a ‘given’ is you don’t want to sharpen skin tones, looks nasty, so running a sharpen action after export could be done even in batch mode to your images.
Another action, cleaning colours, helps lift faces if used sparingly or boosting colours, but in a way that’s not too dramatic. Bit like Vibrancy slider in Lightroom without having to go to LR.
download the 2 actions from here, (right-click & save-as)
Description of the Actions:
Note: Some of these actions will change how your Curves dialogue box looks like. I operate on percentages, not levels based in using Curves, since everyone can relate to a % figure without having to wonder what an Input of 230 Output of 241 will result in, but with percentage base, a no-brainer.
If you want the gritty details, open your Curves dialogue box, click on ‘Curve Display Options’ and check ‘Pigment Inks’ which will also swap your Shadows/Highlights around, dragging down for lighter and up for darker, and if you place your cursor and click on a point, the figures are now percentage based, not levels.
If you want to see what any of the Masks are protecting/enhancing in any of the following actions, simply Alt [pc] Option [mac] and click on the Mask itself and it will show the actual mask on your image. Reverse procedure to get back to full colour image or simply click on ‘background’ of your image.
Anyone who is familiar with actions, can also get out of button mode, open up the action arrows to see what was applied. Some look involved but fairly simple for anyone who can create and understand them. Obviously you can change defaults if comfortable with them.
1st Action Set Name: TOOLS for PROCESSING
1] Gradient POP 20%
A simple gradient map, blend mode Soft Light, Opacity 20% which can be varied.
2] Sharpen 250 Protect Skin
Great for wedding/portrait with lots skin. Sharpens 250%, Radius 1.8, Threshold 0 with a Red Channel Mask protects reds for skin tones. Opacity 100%, can be varied to taste.
Fantastic other colors around faces except red. Gets in between eyelashes, etc., protecting the skin tones.
3] Sharpen 150 Protect Skin
Same as 250 but Sharpen set to 150. Opacity can be varied.
4] Clean Colours Independently [using UK English spelling of ‘colours’]
Great for ‘cleaning’ colours which may have been a bit ‘muddy’. Use sparingly set to 20% adjustable.
Simple use of ‘Selective Color’ adjustment layer. eg: Red is Magenta and Yellow, so I make Cyan -100%; Blue is Cyan & Magenta, so I make Yellow -100% and so on for each colour.
5] Boost Colours Independently
Similar to above, but to increase colour saturation. Use sparingly. Set to 20%
This time you +100% the colours you want. eg: Reds – Magenta +100%; Yellow +100%, Cyan 0, etc.
The Clean & Boost is handy if once you find you processed image still lacking a bit you can without having to go back to original, give the quick boost via actions. You can also add layer mask to the ‘Selective Color’ layer to mask out anything too intrusive, eg: faces.
6] Reflector Open Shadows
A great way to open up eye sockets, faces if a tad too dark, simply using Soft White Brush, paint in on Black Mask around 15-30% opacity until you have built up the desired effect. There is a protective mask on there which will help preserve highlights. Gentle brushing to build up is far better then aggressive brush opacity flow rate.
7] Remove Blues from Whites
Simply use of Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the ‘Blues’ set to -65%, using Soft Brush, opacity set to 100% simply brush over the whites, removes Blue only.
8] Sunburn Relief
Ahhh, ever had the ‘sunglasses white eye sockets with burnt surrounds’ or simply just sunburnt.
Brush out on the mask around 10-30% until happy with Soft White Brush.
Simple use of Selective Color Adjustment Layer with Reds having -33% Magenta and -27% Yellow.
Why those percentages? Just cause I found it a nice combo, but feel free to play around.
Only effects the ‘Reds’.
9] Contrast via Masks 5%
Now, this is the “be all, end all” in my personal opinion.
Many people apply contrast via S Curves but that can destroy colours, it *will* change them.
I found a great tutorial [forgot site name] on this a good while back, made a lot of sense, so I made 2 actions. 5% and a 10%
Using Curves Adjustment Layers for both Shadows and Highlights [S-H, percentage based] I applied a 5% for dark tones, but, using the midtone point in the Curves Palette.
Input 50% Output 55%, PLUS a protective layer mask.
Same for Highlights, this time 50% Input with a 45% Output and mask to protect darker tones.
Alt click on the mask to see what I mean. Alt click on mask again to get back to image.
You can change the percentages, but you need to do it in the Curves Palette, the layer opacity is always 100%, of course you can alter Output to different % for each of the Shadow/Highlights, nothing says you need to keep both at 5% or 10%. You may find having the Shadows at 5% plenty but open up the Highlights to 10%.
10] Sepia Protect Whites
Convert to BW your way first, then run the action.
Excellent way to get genuine Sepia tones, without tinting the whites.
Mask to protect the whites from looking silly, they remain white, and it tints perfectly and gradually through midtones to shadows.
It uses the ‘Solid Colour’ Adjustment Layer with a mask, so you can change the colour if you want by double clicking on the Icon in layer, and change to your hearts content.
Default gives a good ratio of Red 60, Green 30, Blue 0; but feel free to experiment as the whites will always be protected.
11] Teeth via Green Channel
Great way to whiten teeth using Curves with Image Calculations on the Green Channel since this gives the greatest contrast between gum/skin/teeth so you can brush confidently without having to be careful. Brush at 100 full brush, then change opacity to suit. You don’t want a in your face ‘Hollywood’ look, 40-50% layer opacity is generally pretty good.
12] Dodge Brighten Eyes
Once again, Curves/Mask Layer Mask, brush in white brush until happy. Change layer opacity to suit.
13] Dodge & Burn General
Nope. Definitely NOT the Dodge-Burn Tool, that’s a useless tool in my opinion.
This uses once again a Curves Adjustment Layer for each of the Dodge/Burn Layers with protective Masks.
Simply use soft white brush, around 10-30% or change opacity on the fly to lighten/darken areas of the image using the different layers created.
Of course hitting X on keyboard you can brush back in something you may have been too aggessive with.
2nd Action Set Name: SHADOW RANGE
1] SHADOW RANGE GREEN
Great for opening up shadows, using the Image/Calculations/Green Channels, but protecting highlights, run, change layer opacity to suit. Default 100%
2] SHADOW RANGE GREY
Same as above, but using a ‘generic’ greyscale in Image/Calculations/Grey
If familiar with actions, you can put a ‘stop’ on the Shadows/Highlights Palette Box, to change values before proceeding on. I left it run at defaults of Amount 60%; Tone Width 60%; Radius 300 for Shadows; Zero for Highlights; Black Clip 0.01; White Clip 0.01; Color Correction +30.
by Adrian, Five Star Studios – wedding photographer, Mackay, Queensland in Australia